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Exploring culture, climate, and the Cold War

Four BU faculty awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

Their research has taken them into the museums and universities of Afghanistan, the villages of West Bengal, and the hidden wilderness of Concord, Mass. They have explored the political past, the cultural present, and the climatic future. And for the work they have completed, and the work that remains to be done, four BU faculty members have been selected as 2006 Guggenheim Fellows.

Thomas Barfield

Among the 187 U.S. and Canadian Fellows selected from nearly 3,000 applicants for 2006 were Thomas Barfield, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of anthropology and department chair, for his project titled “Political Legitimacy in Afghanistan”; Frank J. Korom, a CAS associate professor of religion and anthropology, for “The Impact of Modernity on Traditional Bengali Scroll Painters and Singers”; Richard Primack, a CAS professor of biology, for “Climate Change in Thoreau’s Concord”; and Julian Zelizer, a CAS professor of history, for “National Security Politics from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.”

   Frank J. Korom

“I am truly honored,” says Korom, who plans to take a leave of absence from the University to complete Singing Modernity, a book about how Bengali scroll painters and singers have adapted their industry to meet modern-day needs. “Receiving a Guggenheim is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege,” he says.

Barfield, the director of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, which is headquartered at BU, will use the Guggenheim grant to continue his research on Afghanistan. Civil war, he says, has disrupted the flow of international scholarship on the nation; the AIAS hopes to “develop the long-term perspective on the country’s history and culture.”

Richard Primack

Primack’s work has long explored the climactic changes that are notable in Concord, Mass., because of a warming climate — the earlier arrival of migratory birds in the spring, as well as the earlier flowering times of plants, are both of note, and the records of Concord kept by Henry David Thoreau provide a point of comparison. “During my sabbatical year, I will use [the fellowship] to write a book on the subject,” Primack says. He will also spend several months as a visiting professor at Tokyo University.

Zelizer, a political historian, is working on a book exploring the history of national security politics from the Cold War era and plans to use the grant to continue his research. “I feel greatly honored to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship,” he says.

Julian Zelizer 

Guggenheim Fellowships are given to advanced professionals in all fields (natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, creative arts) except the performing arts. They usually last a year and average about $35,000. A total of $7.5 million in grant awards was distributed among the 187 winners.